The fence can go up at the Buckeye Ranch.

The fence can go up at the Buckeye Ranch.

Grove City Council on Jan. 19 approved a zoning variance for a 12-foot-high security fence at the center over objections from a neighboring subdivision.

Once surrounded by cornfields, the center for troubled youths is now surrounded by the suburb, which prompted Buckeye Ranch officials to propose the fence. The fence is as much to keep intruders out as it is to keep the kids in, Nick Rees, the center's executive director, has said.

The Grove City Board of Zoning Appeals previously gave the center permission to exceed a 6-foot fence limit. Bill Ferguson, a resident of the Quail Creek subdivision across Hoover Road from the center, said the fence would make it look like a prison and hurt home values.

"We heard their concerns," Rees said on Wednesday, but added that landscaping and trees will shield the view of the fence from the road.

A fence already surrounds the center's 40-bed, locked-down "intensive-care" unit, where youths who are considered a risk to themselves or the public live. In the unfenced open campus, however, state law prohibits center workers from physically stopping children from leaving.

The fence will give workers a chance to persuade children to stay or, at least, time to notify a parent or guardian, Rees said.